Author Archives: Ashley Hudson

About Ashley Hudson

Hi and thanks for stopping by! This blog is a writers release of lessons learned during my growth in Christ. I want to share these moments with you because I believe in bearing with one another and rejoicing with one another. I hope you will be uplifted and challenged to do some growing of your own. May the Lord God bless you and keep you and yours. In Him, Ashley

Glow

I had an amazing English teacher in Jr High named Mrs. Thomason.  She always had a warm and welcoming classroom, and every Friday she would tell us as we left “Have a good weekend, and go to Church on Sunday!” Her actions and words would scream “Christian” even though she really never proclaimed it.  A few weeks ago, I saw a post from her on Facebook that left a warmth in my heart and a thankfulness that I got to experience her wisdom as a child in the classroom, and now as an adult.

 “Everyone please pray for a young man named Colten. I was walking in Wal-Mart tonight when an elderly lady behind me began to sob. I put my arm around her and asked what was wrong. She said her grandson had been in a car accident this evening and had been airlifted to Oklahoma City and wasn’t expected to live. We went into the little cart area and I prayed for Colten. She asked if everyone I know would pray for him….what could I say? ….and I won’t break that promise…Don’t know his last name, but please pray for Colten… God knows all the details.”

What a woman! She was in tune to the needs of a complete stranger, dropped her plans, and took the woman aside and prayed for her! Now more than ever, I see in her a wonderful gift of sympathy and genuine concern for the welfare of others. I don’t think I would have had the courage to ask a complete stranger to pray with me. Sure, I say little prayers to myself quite a bit if I see someone in need, but never pulled a complete stranger aside to pray with them; wouldn’t they think I was a little crazy? A Bible thumper? Someone waaay too in touch with my spiritual side? Mrs. Thomason didn’t care. She saw a need, and took care of it immediately and became a light, and a comfort to the woman she had just met.

Something that we, as Christians, tend to forget is that we were not charged to just take care of our own. We are to take the Gospel to everyone, and not keep our faith from others who may not be believers(Mark 16:15). We are asked to shine our lights, just as a city on a hill in Matthew 5:14. Notice where the city lies: on a hill, not tucked away in the bottom of a valley. Please don’t tuck your faith away from others’ view. Please don’t save those pure and undefiled prayers to your Father only for your closest sisters in Christ. Share this faith, this amazing avenue of prayer with all persons made in the image of Him. Do not let insecurities get in the way of letting Him work through you; He is with you, and in Him, you can do anything (Philippians 3:16). God will shine through all of us, we just have to acknowledge the opportunities to let Him work in us. For the grieving woman, God gave her comfort through a short and sweet English teacher with understanding eyes. Mrs. Thomason became His arms of comfort, His words of wisdom, and His perfect peace. I urge all of you, plead with all of you, to look for moments such as this to let the love of Christ be revealed to those whom you do not know. Ask God to open your eyes and your heart to those who are in need of Him.

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:35-40

By Ashley Hudson
Ashley Hudson is a stay-at-home-mom with three children ages 9, 5, and 3.  She and her family worship at the 7th and Beech Church of Christ in Durant, Oklahoma.   Her husband, Jake, is the Campus Minister for the Student Bible Center at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Be sure to check out her blog at www.hudsonfive.wordpress.com

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Bridle That Tongue!

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a comment that left you with a cold, aching, hatred in your heart? Have you ever muttered words that left another feeling the same way?  I am shamefully guilty of this, and I have felt the sting of the repercussions on both ends of the hurtful words.

The way we speak to one another can get out of hand at times due to lack of concern for the other, pride, hatred, hurt feelings, seeking selfish gain, and many more factors.  The mouth is such an important part of our lives, but it can turn ugly quickly when tempers become aroused.  Psalm 34:13-14 states “Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit.  Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.”  The Bible also tells us that “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from trouble” (Proverbs 21:23). Guarding our tongues from speaking evil of others is such a daunting task at times, it seems. As humans, when we become hurt, it is in our nature to justify our pain, and out of that pain flows words uttered about another that are hard to erase.  As Christians, it is our obligation to seek peace and pursue it.

The book of James gives us some insight on our words in chapter three.  It explains how little things make a big difference.  He gives us two examples of small tools used to maneuver larger items, and compares them with our tongues controlling our whole bodies.  The horse is given a small bit that is places in its mouth, in order to turn its body in the way the rider wishes to go.  A large ship utilizes a small rudder to steer it wherever the pilot may want to go.  In the same way, our tongues are very small members, and can steer us in many different directions.  When used wisely, out tongues direct us closer to others and to our Father and Creator.  When used foolishly, our tongues spark a wildfire destroying fellow Christians and, as stated in verse 6, an unruly tongue sets us on a course to destruction. As we read further in the text, we see how we use our tongues to glorify and bless our Father, and in the same breath, may curse others. The writer warns us that we should not make this so in verse 10. He explains how a fresh spring cannot also create stagnant water from the same opening and a fig tree can only bear figs.  In this same manner, we must show consistency with our words. If we are to be wise on this earth, we must show good conduct and bear words that show wisdom through meekness (vs 13).

I believe the main driving force behind the fire we cast out of our speech sometimes comes from our own selfishness. We seek our own will against the will of others, and if that will is threatened, we tend to lash back with hurtful comments. James challenges us to purse an active faith which will produce changes in conduct and character.  We must challenge ourselves daily to continue to live lives of purity and self-control while seeking peace with others. We must attain godly wisdom to control things such as the tongue from ruling our lives. Search the scriptures daily so you may have His word in your hearts every moment makes it easier for us to speak well of another out of our love and respect for the Father and His word.  Pray to the Lord that He may help you bridle your tongue in your times of distress and seek peace with others.

I understand that this is such a hard trait to obtain, but I believe it can be done.  I continually struggle with my words and my tone with those who are closest to me at times, and I believe that at the end of the day, if I try my hardest to correct the wrong, pray for forgiveness, and let those whom I hurt know of the love I have for them in my heart, then I will live to fight another day with the battle of the tongue, and my brothers and sisters in Christ will encourage me on as I fight the battle.  I believe this is true for all of us as well.

“For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.  Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:16-18

May we all seek righteousness and peace with all, and continue on with the task of controlling our tongues out of love for the Father and love for another.

By Ashley Hudson
Ashley Hudson is a stay-at-home-mom with three children ages 9, 5, and 3.  She and her family worship at the 7th and Beech Church of Christ in Durant, Oklahoma.   Her husband, Jake, is the Campus Minister for the Student Bible Center at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Be sure to check out her blog at www.hudsonfive.wordpress.com

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The Past is the Past?

“Did you hear about the mess that girl has gotten herself into?  She has no respect for her parents, no respect for this congregation, and no respect for God.  I cannot believe she can walk in here with that haughty look on her face while it is blatantly clear that she has to be at least five months pregnant by now.”  As your friend is expressing her concerns about the troubled teen sitting a few rows ahead of you, your face grows hot, your stomach churns, and your heart is sinking for the teen as you remember the promiscuity you once knew.  It could have been you in that pew when you were her age.  You have spent most of your adult life hiding the sin that overtook you as a teen knowing that the sins of your youth have long been forgiven.  Because of your past sins, you can look upon others with a certain compassion who may be struggling the same way you once did.  You don’t discuss your former life however, because you do not want people to look upon you as they are now looking upon this young girl.   You want so badly to go tell the girl that you struggled with sexual sin as a teen, and how your family, scriptures, prayer, and strong determination set your path back to God.  But you sit, afraid to let another in to your dark, hidden past.

Think back on the story of the woman at the well in John 4.  This woman was the ultimate sinner, an outcast, someone whom society had shunned. She came to draw water when the well was vacant so she wouldn’t have to hear the sneering about her lifestyle.  She was utterly and hopelessly lost in sin until Jesus approached her and gave her hope.  Upon hearing that he was the coming Messiah, she went back to her town and proclaimed, “Come, see a man who told me all that I have ever did.  Can this be the Christ?” (John 4:29)  People knew her, they knew her reputation, for some, even her coming into town and making a public statement was appalling, but notice what happened in verse 39, “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’”

Do you think that this initial spark in believing Jesus was lit because people saw in this woman a likeness to themselves?  Could some of them even be struggling with the same sin as she?  Could they have been brought to know Christ because they saw the burden of her choices vanish from her face?  She had been used as a tool to proclaim Christ even in her sinful state.  The magnitude of his grace was fully felt by her, a sinner, and she used her past to proclaim Christ’s power.  Are we doing the same?  Are we acknowledging to others Christ’s power over the sin in our lives?  Are we remembering the sins of our former selves and sharing them with others so that they too may receive the very same forgiveness we have been given?  I am afraid all too often, we forget the sinner we used to be.  We must remember why we needed a savior so we can always rely on Him.  We must remember the feeling of being lost so we can keep the joy of being set free in our hearts and on our tongues.

Allow others to peer into the sinful life you once lead.   You do not have to get into every detail, but you can confess that you once struggled with a particular sin, and even more so, how you broke free from it.  This could be the very thing they need in order to be set free from their own sins: to see a Christian being renewed and transformed from a struggle that they now are facing.

We sometimes make Christianity look impossible to obtain.  We make it look as if we have been perfect all our lives, not really knowing what “lost” is.  We must confess to one another that we too, once were lost, and that now we have “received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:16)

Christ wants us to be an example.  He wants us to leave our former lusts, all the while remembering it was He who saved us from these lusts.  We must thank Him that through our sins He has judged us faithful, appointing us to His services (1 Timothy 1:12).  He has seen past the rubbish of our past and given us a hope.  We must use our past to restore others, just as the Samaritan woman, just as Paul, just as countless others have allowed their sinful pasts to be an example of what Christ can do.  Let the past actions and guilt remain in the past when it comes to your former lifestyle, but don’t shut it out completely.  Use it as a tool to share the Gospel of Christ.  Remind yourself of why you needed a Savior.  If we forget this vital need, we become foolish and prideful.  We look at other sinners with arrogance, forgetting we too are sinners and in need of grace.  “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body, and be thankful” (Colossians 2:12, 15).

By Ashley Hudson
Ashley Hudson is a stay-at-home-mom with three children ages 9, 5, and 3.  She and her family worship at the 7th and Beech Church of Christ in Durant, Oklahoma.   Her husband, Jake, is the Campus Minister for the Student Bible Center at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Be sure to check out her blog at www.hudsonfive.wordpress.com

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Living Under the Grace of God

For many Christians, we tend to misunderstand the concept of God’s grace. We sometimes continue on in old practices that were associated with our lives before we came to know Christ. I feel as if we may do this not fully understanding our freedoms in Christ and thinking that we are covered by grace. We all need to be justified through faith because of sin, so how did this justification take place, and how are we to live under this justification?

Romans 5 gives an excellent description of how our faith in God justifies us as sinners.  It explains how sin entered the world, and how it has been conquered by the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Because of the overwhelming amount of sin, we needed Christ to make us righteous again.  Verse 20 shows us that the Old Testament law was put into effect to show us that sin was in our hearts, and that when this “sin increased, grace abounded all the more” this grace was provided through the death of our Savior.  As we enter into chapter 6, we are asked this question:

“What shall we say then?  Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?”

What does this statement mean?  We are all sinners (Romans 3:23) aren’t we always going to sin?  To find the meaning in this statement, we must read further in the text.  Let’s read on through verses 2-4.

“By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

The text shows us that as baptized believers, we have taken part in a death to sin so that we may be made into something new.  To continue constantly in the sinful life we used to lead would mean that we have not died to sin.  If we have not died to sin, we are still living in sin, and grace is not covering us.  If the death of our old self has not taken place, how can we be raised from that death, or be covered by grace?  Lets read on through verses 5-11.

“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

To be covered by the grace of God, we must die to sin, be buried with Christ through baptism and be resurrected into a new person. When we become Christians, we cannot continue in the same path as we once were on. The will of God demands a change, one that takes full devotion and wisdom to obtain. Death is defined as “the end of life” and when we enter into God’s grace, we end the old life, and start a new one.  In doing this, we are set free from sin. Death through sin will no longer have dominion over us because we are set free and alive in Christ.

As Christians, things will come up that demand a change. This is part of our growth in Christ. Maybe we need to change the old way we used to dress for modesty purposes when we study about 1 Timothy 2:9. Maybe we do not need to watch our favorite TV show any more because it does not contain things spoken of in Philippians 4:8. Now comes the question, shall we continue on in sin so that grace may abound?  Will we willfully continue on in it hoping grace will cover us, or will we put it to death? Freedom in Christ bestowed upon us by the grace of God is not a freedom to continue on in sin. “Live as a people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16).

By Ashley Hudson
Ashley Hudson is a stay-at-home-mom with three children ages 9, 5, and 3.  She and her family worship at the 7th and Beech Church of Christ in Durant, Oklahoma.   Her husband, Jake, is the Campus Minister for the Student Bible Center at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Be sure to check out her blog at www.hudsonfive.wordpress.com

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Words of Wisdom

It was so hard trying to choke back the tears that day.  My family and I were sharing our last worship service with our brothers and sisters at the El Reno Church of Christ.  We were moving away to pursue a new calling in the ministry.  My dear friend, Robyn Legg, the minister’s wife approached me.  I dreaded our goodbye; this small, precious women had taken me in, and taught me the ways of being a minister’s wife.  She grabbed my hand and placed a small piece of paper into my palms, and closed my shaking fingers around it.  She said, “I am awful at goodbyes, and can’t stand saying them, this is everything I wanted to tell you, remember these words always, your going to do just fine.”  She brought me in and gave me a big hug, squeezed my hands with hers and turned to leave.  As she walked away, I unclenched my hands and gazed down at the little piece of paper that read:

“Ash,
Know who you are
Know who you’re trying to please
Know what you’re driving for
Robyn”

Hot, wet tears streaked down my cheeks as I digested the words and took pleasure in the elegant way she signed her name.  I have come back to this little piece of paper often to re-evaluate my purpose as a Christian, and to refresh myself with the simple truth that she gave me that day.

“Know who you are”

I am a Christian, bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20).  I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works (Ephesians 2:10).  I am a woman, fabricated within my mother’s womb to become a tender, submissive wife, and patient mother. (Psalms 139:13-14, 1 Peter 3:1, Psalms 127:3)  I am the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit who intercedes for me in my weaknesses, and keeps the word of the Father alive in my heart (Romans 8:26).  I am a sinner (Romans 3:23).

“Know who you’re trying to please”

I belong to the great I AM, to the Creator of all things (Genesis 1-2).  I serve a risen Savior, being justified through his blood (Romans 5:9).  I am to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37).

“Know what you’re driving for”

I run, not with uncertainty, thus I fight (1 Corinthians 9:26) for the prize that has been given to me. It is my duty, out of love for my Savior, to confess Jesus’ name before men (Matthew 10:32).  I work to raise my children up in the Lord (Proverbs 22:6) so that they may know Him and His love. I know that my citizenship is in heaven, and I will be transformed by the power that enables Him to subject all things to Himself (Philippians 3:20-21).

Today, ask yourself, “Who am I?  Who am I pleasing?  What am I driving for?”  Are you searching for the answers to these questions within yourself, or are you searching for the truths revealed to us in the word?  As the days have passed since receiving this note, my answers continue to transform and mature, but always serve as a reminder to seek these answers in the word. Take the time today to search yourself, to meditate on the word, and to define who you are and what you are striving for.

By Ashley Hudson
Ashley Hudson is a stay-at-home-mom with three children ages 9, 5, and 3.  She and her family worship at the 7th and Beech Church of Christ in Durant, Oklahoma.   Her husband, Jake, is the Campus Minister for the Student Bible Center at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Be sure to check out her blog at www.hudsonfive.wordpress.com

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Fear the Lord thy God

Several weeks ago, my son came home from Thursday School frazzled and frightened about a story that was taught.  That morning, they learned about Jonah and the big fish and how Jonah was swallowed up for disobeying God.  The idea scared him, and during class, he began to feel as if he too would share that same fate.

When he and I came home, it was a difficult task telling my three-year-old that God would not do that to us, to him.  I told him how much God loved him, and that what he did to Jonah happened a very long time ago, and it would not happen again.  It took a few weeks of reassurance, but in time, my son forgot the fear placed within him, and didn’t worry anymore about the big fish that was out to get him if he disobeyed God.

As Christians, we are to possess a Godly fear for our Master.  What is this Godly fear?  Is it the kind of fear that makes us watch our backs when we do wrong, worrying that our “big fish” will swallow us whole if we misbehave?  Is it a fear that makes us think twice before we turn to sinful ways because of the consequences we know that lie in wait?  In order to understand how to have a Godly fear for our Lord, we must understand fear itself.  Fear, as defined in the online resource, Dictionary.com, is stated as follows:

1. a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or    imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

2. a specific instance of or propensity for such a feeling: an abnormal fear of heights.

3. concern or anxiety; solicitude: a fear for someone’s safety.

4.reverential awe, especially toward god.

5.that which causes a feeling of being afraid; that of which a person is afraid: Cancer is a  common fear.

There are several different ways a person can show fear. Notice some of the emotions used to define this term: distress, pain, anxiety, concern, and reverential awe.  In the Old Testament, we are told how to fear God by obeying Him (Deuteronomy 10:13-13), loving Him (Deuteronomy 11:1), and by worshipping Him (Psalms 2:11).  Each of these traits are in the form of a reverential awe, as defined earlier, a type of fear.

A Godly fear shows respect and awareness.  Having fear for the Lord shows how much we want to honor and obey Him.  We must respect, or fear His power and His just decisions, but in a healthy manner.  We know that God ultimately judges us all and He is the one who will make the decision to allow us to spend eternity with Him, or be cast away into darkness and misery with Satan.  Is it Godly to be scared of Hell; to feel anxiety, concern, and distress over the subject?  Absolutely!  We have been given the emotion of fear to keep us safe from certain dangers.   Is it Godly to posses these same emotions when we fear God?  I do not think so.  We must fear God because we love and respect His righteousness.  God is not a danger, He is our sustainer.  We should follow Him and keep His commands because we love Him, and want to obey His will, not exclusively because we know that if we do not, we will go to Hell.  The latter statement is true, but it should not be the driving force in our obedience.

Are we running around just as my child was, fearing that the Lord will swallow us up if we do not stay in line, or are we obeying His will because we love and respect Him?  We fear God because He has forgiveness (Psalm130:4); we fear Him because of grace (Ephesians 6:7-8); we fear Him because He is holy.

Fear is a normal emotion that can be shown in many different ways.  Our Father demands a reverential fear from His children, not because He is a bully, waiting for us to mess up, but because consequences are real; heaven and hell are real.  He wants us to fear His judgment to keep us safe from the dangers that come from disobedience.  As long as we are loving, serving, obeying, and worshiping our Lord, we are safe from the things that try to consume us on a daily basis.  Just as we train children to have  fear, and respect for things that may cause them harm, God, in His word, trains us to continue to posses these same qualities.  Love is the driving force behind everything the Lord has done for us.   God is love, and we shall continue to let this force–love –guide us through this life… with a nice touch of Godly fear added to the mix.

By Ashley Hudson
Ashley Hudson is a stay-at-home-mom with three children ages 9, 5, and 3.  She and her family worship at the 7th and Beech Church of Christ in Durant, Oklahoma.   Her husband, Jake, is the Campus Minister for the Student Bible Center at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Be sure to check out her blog at www.hudsonfive.wordpress.com

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Rise Up and Build

An SUV is seen standing on end amongst storm damage after a tornado ripped through Tushka, Oklahoma April 15, 2011. (Johnny Thomason)

As my life disappears with each setting of the sun, I come to realize, that I really am not as in control as I think I am.   This realization hit me pretty hard today as I stood in the middle of a dirt road with the cold wind tearing through my jacket as I gazed upon the eerie scene of a tornado zone.  The smell of fresh “cut” pine was in the air, and as far as I could see, debris and crumbling structures encompassed my vision.  I found myself sifting through rubble in a pasture thinking of the little girl that may have been missing her Ballerina Barbie that was lying at my feet.  I saw pictures of strangers scattered about the tall grass, shoes, books, blankets, and pieces of intricately hand-carved wooden legs splintered and misshapen, drowning in the mud.  Frightened horses were neighing and scuffing their hoofs against the floors of the trailer they were being placed into for safety.  Several families were scattered about trying to dig up familiar pieces of their “homes” really not knowing where to begin.   I too, did not know where to begin.  I became lost in thought, trying to imagine loosing it all, and wondering where I would try to begin.

I spoke with my husband that night about how I could encourage people to rebuild their homes and lives in a Godly way.  He pointed me to the book of Nehemiah, and explained to me how the people of Judah had lost everything during their time of captivity by the Babylonian empire.  This empire completely wiped out the city of Jerusalem, and left nothing but rubble and ashes.  The book of Nehemiah speaks of how they began to rebuild their faith, their homes, and the wall that would protect their city from another invasion.  Everyone pulled together during the time of rebuilding, and everyone was dedicated to a specific task concerning the construction of the walls.  But more importantly, during this process, they took time to pray to God, ask for forgiveness and guidance, reflected on who they were as a people, where they had been, and where they should be going.  The chain of events that took place, made these people turn back to their Creator, and set them once again, on the right track with their worship to Him, as well as fortified the city of Jerusalem.  This book shows how a people rescued each other from ruin and despair, and started a new walk with God.

Surveying the damage and mourning the loss

In Nehemiah chapter one verse three, we see men who had escaped the captivity report to Nehemiah that upon returning to Jerusalem, they found the city to be destroyed, the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, and the gates were destroyed with fire.  The walls of Jerusalem were the people’s protection from the world surrounding them.  It was their comfort, and their place of refuge.  Today, this wall, so to speak, could be defined as our Christian home.  We work to keep our home a refuge from the worldly things around us spiritually, and it serves as a protection from the ailments physically.  We put a lot of love and care into our homes.  We furnish it with mementos and keepsakes from times past, and fill it with love and laughter, opening our homes to those we love.  The tornado that rumbled through Tushka, Oklahoma took many peoples homes away.  With every board and every piece of furniture stripped away and destroyed, so did these peoples memories, and sense of security.  For the people of Jerusalem, the walls that were destroyed left them open and vulnerable, and today, the victims of the tornado feel the same way as well.

Upon the news of the destruction, Nehemiah took the time to weep, mourn, pray, and fast for several days (Nehemiah 1:4).  The book of Ecclesiastes tells us that everything has its season, and a time for every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1).  We are told there are going to be times to break down (vs 3), and a time to mourn (vs4).  During a time of complete and total loss, we must all take the time to place ourselves in solitude, and allow ourselves to mourn over those things we have lost.  When we mourn, we often find our knees on the floor, with earnest prayers for healing being sent up into the heavens. Survivors of the storm must take the time to experience this all too important time of healing, because it clears our minds, heals the hurt, and points us to what we should do next.   In chapter one verses five through eleven of Nehemiah, we see the prayer of a man dedicated to pick up the pieces and implored God to put His grace into the situation, and redeem them with His great power and strong hand.

The town of Tushka, in southeast Oklahoma, was devestated by storms on April 14. (credit: CBSDFW.COM)

Nehemiah was given permission to go to Jerusalem and oversee the rebuilding of the wall.  He took the time to inspect the damage that was done and in doing so, devised a plan and solicited help to get the job done.  In chapter two verse eighteen, Nehemiah tells the people who had come to help that the hand of God would be with their efforts and that they, as a people should “rise up and build”.  In hearing this, the people set their hands to the good work.  Nehemiah was not afraid to reach out and ask others for help, there were many I am sure, ready and willing to rebuild their homes, and were just waiting for instruction as to where to get started.  Nehemiah kept God in the rebuilding plan and had faith that God would see this plan through.  For those of you who are rebuilding your lives, remember to ask God often to keep His hand in your work.  God has stated in Jeremiah 32:27, “Behold I am the Lord thy God of all flesh, is there anything too hard for me?”  There is nothing that can be done to any of His children that He cannot heal; all we have to do is ask for this healing.  We must “rise up and build” as Nehemiah put it, beginning first with the healing of our hearts while we confess our sins, cry out our hurt, and lay our burdens down at His feet. Then, we can move on to the construction of our earthly homes with a clear head, asking God to place His peace and mercy on each task that we are able to perform.

Remember what brought you to this point

In chapter twelve of Nehemiah, we see him dedicate the walls of Jerusalem after the construction had been complete.  During the time of the rebuilding, the people continued to rebuild their relationship with God, and with each other.  They all worked diligently until the task had been complete, and celebrated the wall’s completeness.  They sang songs of thanksgiving and held a feast and worshipped the Lord.  They shared what they had with others, and reformed the stale state of worship they had been in.  Chapter 13 goes on to tell of the way they reflected on what brought them to this point, and the thankfulness they had for surviving.  They rededicated their lives to God and committed themselves to reach forward in their faith all the while remembering what brought them to this new awareness.  For you who are picking up the pieces now, it is going to be a tough journey to wholeness.  Reflect on that journey as you go through it, remember the humility you are feeling, and the hope you have for your future.  Allow others to help you, pray with you, and weep with you as you re-establish your homes.  When the work is done, celebrate with those whom worked alongside you and remember to give thanks to the Lord for “the Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” (Psalms 145:9)  Reach forward in your faith and share your experience with others.  Remember how you lost your earthly things, but how you gained patience, humility, friendships, stronger faith, and commitment from everyone who loves you.  Hold fast the promise of eternity, and rejoice in the eternal home you will one day possess in Heaven if you are found faithful. When your home is complete, dedicate it to the Lord again, and keep His name and His word alive in it.  Make it a strong fortress, impenetrable by the enemy lying in wait, just as the walls of Jerusalem were purposed to be.

April 15: Jerome Whittington attempts to salvage belongings through the window of his automobile in Tushka, Okla. Source: AP

Want to help?  Email me at ashdhud@gmail.com and I will get you in touch with people who can point you in the right direction

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due when it is within your power to do it (Proverbs 3:27).

Editor’s Note: As you likely are aware, many storm ripped apart much of the South over the last week. Tushka, OK was one of the first struck, but others also need our prayers. Please keep these in mind as well.

By Ashley Hudson
Ashley Hudson is a stay-at-home-mom with three children ages 9, 5, and 3.  She and her family worship at the 7th and Beech Church of Christ in Durant, Oklahoma.   Her husband, Jake, is the Campus Minister for the Student Bible Center at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Be sure to check out her blog at www.hudsonfive.wordpress.com

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How to Turn Immodest –> Modest

As women, it seems as if we have very limited choices when it comes to the fashion world these days.  Every season, the newest and brightest designs come gracefully walking into our favorite stores, enticing us to buy.  The problem is, many of these styles are plagued with immodesty because of the strappy tops, short shorts, plunging neck-lines, and hip-hugging jeans.  We are tempted to wear a little less on our shoulders, and get a little shorter in the leg area because of the warmth of Spring and Summer beg us to bare a little more.  How do we maintain our sense of propriety while enjoying the latest fashion trends?

We get creative!  We improvise!  We challenge these pieces by adding extra layers to create fresh, fun, and appropriate styles that make us feel comfortable.  Listed below, are a few tips on sprucing up your Spring wardrobe with some easy to wear outfits created by pieces that would be considered inappropriate.

 

Rescuing the racerback tank and hiding cleavage

It is tempting to throw on a brightly colored tank and go, especially on those hot summer days.  Tank tops have a tendency to be low cut, and they hardly conceal your bra straps, causing women to constantly be exposing their “unmentionables” and fiddling with straps to keep them in place.  If you enjoy the lightweight feel of a tank, try wearing a lightweight tee, or a half-shirt underneath.  By choosing to layer the tank, you can enjoy the style, and still maintain proper modesty.

Most of us wear camisoles under our clothing these days, which is an excellent modesty piece, but the camisoles can still show cleavage, for the bustier woman.  If this is a problem for you, invest in some tube tops.  These pieces can help the bustier woman hide unwanted cleavage.  A good tube top worn under a low-cut garment hits you straight across the chest, where camisoles dip down and make a half moon shape.  It sits higher on your chest as well, and offers extra support.  Purchase a tube top that is a size larger than what you normally wear to accommodate the bustier gal.

*just a note, the Bermuda length shorts our model, Charlotte is wearing are really making a come back, they are the perfect length for those of us who like to wear shorts*

 

Strappy or tube top dresses

The biggest hit in fashion these past few years has been the long, brightly colored strappy or strapless dresses.  These dresses are a wonderful addition to your wardrobe, because of their longer length.  The problem though, lies with the cut at the top of the dress.  They usually have spaghetti straps, halter straps, or no straps at all.  Lucky for us, there are several ways to tone down the immodesty in the way these dresses are made.

Every woman should have some type of cardigan in her wardrobe.  The cardigan can be worn to hide your bashful shoulders, and add a bit of warmth when sitting in cold auditoriums.  The cardigan comes in many styles, fabrics, and colors.  Choose a cardigan that best fits your personality and body shape. Some styles include: the slouchy cardigan, ¾ sleeve cardigan, cropped cardigan, and the wrap cardigan, just to name a few.  Adding a cardigan to your strappy dress instantly covers up the exposed neckline and creates a cute, and proper style that is calming and comfy.  As the weather gets hotter, ditch the cardigan and pull out a coordinating tee or half shirt to wear under the strappy dress or tube top.

 

Skirts and slips

For many women my age, wearing a slip has pretty much become unheard of.  Some think it isn’t a necessity and choose not to wear them under their skirts or dresses.  Slips are meant to hide the silhouette that is seen underneath your garment.  Many women wear their skirts and dresses at the appropriate length, which should be just at or below the knee, but do not consider the fact that the fabric is a bit light and people can still see what you’ve got going on under the dress!!  Please, please invest in slips, ladies!  Without the proper slip, when you step into a certain light, those around you can see what kind of undies you have on *blush*!  Use common sense when purchasing a slip; beige slips are the universal color to be worn underneath, and you can also wear white slips with light colors, and black slips with darker colors.  Buy slips of different lengths so you can always have one available for whatever skirt or dress you may be wearing.

The plain white truth

I cannot even begin to recall how many times I have seen women walking around wearing the improper undergarments with their white tops or bottoms.  I see black, white, polka dots, zebra stripes, lace, and wires poking out from underneath the shirts and pants.  The only acceptable undergarment to wear under your favorite white tee, blouse, pants, skirts, or shorts is the beige/ flesh-colored bra or undies NO EXCEPTIONS!  Any woman who enjoys wearing white must invest in a good, supportive, seamless bra, and likewise for your undie choices.  This is the only color that does not show up under a white garment.  Your tops should also fit loosely so the form of the bra, and your bust can be tastefully concealed.  Go to a specialty store and get yourself properly measured for a good, supportive bra, and take the steps to care for your bra properly for longer wear.  When the elastic in the straps starts to go out, get another one.  When choosing underwear, make sure the elastic does not cut into your thighs or behind because this can cause unsightly, immodest panty lines.  And yes, even if your dress pants fit loosely, you will still have panty lines if you are not wearing the proper underwear. Like wearing a skirt without a slip, people can tell the kind of underwear you are wearing if they do not fit properly.

Dressing modestly in an immodest world can be done, and with creativity, we can still enjoy fashion and be an example to others around us.  Our modesty is first developed within us, and shines through in the clothing we choose to wear.  As ladies, we should all have in our homes a full-length mirror so we can inspect our outfits before we go out.  Look for seams and lines showing from our undergarments. Keep skirts and shorts at the appropriate length. If you see cleavage, you are dressed inappropriate, even if it is a little. By protecting our bodies in this way, we are protecting the sensitive eyes of our brothers in Christ, and if you are not a distraction, we can all serve the Lord as intended.  Together, in one accord, in spirit and in truth.

(Special thanks to my modest model Charlotte for putting together, and showing off these cute pieces)

Article AND pictures by Ashley Hudson
Ashley Hudson is a stay-at-home-mom with three children ages 9, 5, and 3.  She and her family worship at the 7th and Beech Church of Christ in Durant, Oklahoma.   Her husband, Jake, is the Campus Minister for the Student Bible Center at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Be sure to check out her blog at www.hudsonfive.wordpress.com

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To Spank

To spank, or not to spank.  Why is it even questioned?

Oh the joy of having someone tell you that your parenting skills are controversial. It has been a challenge for me, some days I was able to gracefully handle the concern, and other times, I just walked away without a word, fearing the angry words that would come out of my mouth.  I think it is just one of those things we, as parents, will encounter as we raise our children.

I recently submitted a quote from my three-year old son, Zeek, to a parenting magazine for the “Funniest Quotes by Kids Ever” section. (The quote is located on the bottom of this article. Wait! Don’t look now, entertain this thought first.)  It was about something he said right before I had to discipline him with a spanking.  Ohh, there it is, the dreaded word, spanking.  Yes, I spank my kids.  I love them so much that I administer painful swats on their bottoms to remind them of the consequences of wrong choices.  Some call me cruel, one lady at the supermarket called me out on child abuse, and one of my parents, who spanked me as a child, calls it mean.  I was contacted by the editor, saying that this form of discipline was too controversial for their audience, and they could not submit it.  Are we as Christian parents controversial for spanking our kids?  Absolutely!  How can we, as Christian parents stand up for this type of discipline, and protect our choice to do so?

We must acknowledge that our choice to spank is not cruel, it is Biblical.
As Christians, we are called to live our lives by the Word.  We have been given this Heavenly wisdom, and should use it while raising Godly children.

Proverbs 29:15 states, “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”

Proverbs 13:24 explains, “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”

Proverbs 19:18 says, “Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction.”

The passages in Proverbs 22:15, 23:13 &14, also instruct us on using this form of discipline as well.

We must exercise discipline in ourselves when we rebuke our children.
To lovingly and correctly rebuke a child, we must be able to discipline ourselves first.  We must strive for Godly wisdom in parenting, and always practice patience and self control in all aspects of our parenting, especially when spanking.  We must imitate our Father’s own grace and compassion with us, to our children.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”  Galatians 5:22-23

“The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy.”  Psalm 145:8

We must not conform to the worldly views on discipline.
The world now holds spanking children as a cruel and unusual punishment.  Most people think that children should be free to experience life however they want to live it, and that parents should let them have this freedom.  As Christians, we have freedom in Christ, but we were also bought at a price.  We are instructed on how we are to behave in the world and our children should be taught in this same manner to prepare them for their own Christian walk.

Romans 12:2 reminds us, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

We must have faith in our instructions on rearing children
I do not like spanking my kids.  I cringe every time I have to do it, and sometimes, I give them one too many chances than I should to pry my way out of having to discipline them.  I believe this is where our faith in the Lord and His promises must come in.  We are told that if we live by the Word, we will survive this world, and be with Him someday in Heaven.  This faith in that promise gets me through the days when it feels as if all I do is spank. I have faith that the discipline is working, because God says that it will.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

“You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell.”  Proverbs 23:14

By living as a Godly example for our children, we are told that we will be able to deliver them from darkness.  Our All-Knowing Father loves us enough to discipline and correct us, and we must give this same kind of love back to our children.  We must not feel ashamed for the discipline we give, and we must not conform to the world in this matter.  Our children’s souls are at stake when we toy with worldly views on parenting.  It is my prayer that we all continue on this blessed journey of parenting with Godly wisdom and instruction to carry us through.

I sent my three year old son, Zeek, to his room to await the spanking he was about to receive.  As I entered the room, I asked him if he was ready for his spanking.  He innocently replied, “Oh yeah Mom, give me just a second!”  He dug into his toy box and retrieved an army helmet, placed it on his head, fastened the chin strap and bravely said, “Ok Mom, let’s do this!” (and yes, I still spanked him, because I love him that much)

By Ashley Hudson
Ashley Hudson is a stay-at-home-mom with three children ages 9, 5, and 3.  She and her family worship at the 7th and Beech Church of Christ in Durant, Oklahoma.   Her husband, Jake, is the Campus Minister for the Student Bible Center at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Be sure to check out her blog at www.hudson-five.wordpress.com

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Co-Existing in the Church

One night, I passed by the girls bedroom and overheard an interesting conversation between them.  They were both arguing over the value of sisters.  Kadence pleaded her case by stating, “Sisters aren’t friends, they are just related!”  Without missing a beat Rylee proved her point by proclaiming “No, sisters are the best of friends that get to have sleepovers every night!”

This conversation between the two of them made me think of our relationships within the church with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  I believe that many of us have the same attitude of just being “related” by the blood of Christ and we tend to co-exist within our church walls.  We never take the time to develop deep, meaningful relationships within the body.   We hide ourselves away in comfort zones; maybe the comfort zone is staying busy with small children, having family within the congregation, or friends that we have grown up with.   We hide behind our ages, backgrounds, social status, and our professions.  In doing this, we are missing out from the many blessings that come from unity through diversity.

In 1 Corinthians 12-13, the people of Corinth were robbing others, themselves, and God of the special talents they had because they were too afraid, conceited, or jealous to use them.  In Paul’s letter, he explains three simple things for the people to live by as a way to establish meaningful and productive relationships in Christ Jesus.

He tells them to embrace their own unique talents and not to get caught up in wishing they had something else (1 Corinthians 12:4-7). We all too often compare ourselves to others and, I believe, especially in the church.  We see the things others do for the Lord and we compare ourselves to one another and become jealous over the things others can do that we cannot.  We are all designed to work in different areas of service and we must embrace the gift that God gave us and use it for Him.

He tells them to work together with their talents as a body to glorify the Lord and to build one another up (1 Corinthians 12:12;25-26).  Those of us who are feet must make an effort to get to know the eyes and the eyes must not become jealous of the feet.  We all tend to place ourselves in groups and whether intentional or not, leave others out because they are different than we are.  If we do this, we will miss out on amazing opportunities in growth, service, and friendship.

The final thing Paul tells his fellow Christians to work on is the most important of them all; he tells them to bond themselves together in love.  We must all work to deepen the love in our church family by using our talents out of love (1 Corinthians 13:2-3). If we love others in the way described in Corinthians, we– as a body–can have the full potential to do an immeasurable amount of good for each other, the community, and His kingdom.  If we have faith to remove mountains, but have not love, we gain nothing.  If we give all we have to the church and have not love, we gain nothing.  If we attend all services, events, cook for the sick, visit the shut-ins, and go on mission trips and have not love, we gain nothing.  It is love that bonds us together and it is love that will make this brother/sisterhood thrive.

Building on and investing in solid relationships within the church makes us all better mothers, fathers, friends, and all around better people.  Friends help shape us into the people we were designed to be.  We must embrace our unique abilities to build one another up.  We must work together in Christ just as members of the body to glorify Him and friends, we must establish love between one another because if we have not love, we gain nothing.  I challenge you all to build on new relationships and go outside of your comfort zone to get to know someone within the church who you previously thought you may not have anything in common with.  The truth is, in the church, we all have something in common: a desire to serve our Savior. If we build on that simple fact, we will accomplish much.

By Ashley Hudson
Ashley Hudson is a stay-at-home-mom with three children ages 9, 5, and 3.  She and her family worship at the 7th and Beech Church of Christ in Durant, Oklahoma.   Her husband, Jake, is the Campus Minister for the Student Bible Center at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Be sure to check out her blog at http://www.hudson-five.wordpress.com

 

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